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Headlines for Friday, May 11, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

New Kansas Law Bans Sex Between Police and People They Detain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officers in Kansas are now banned from having sex with people they stop for traffic violations or detain in criminal investigations under a new state law that many legislators were surprised was necessary. Before Governor Jeff Colyer signed the law Thursday, Kansas was among 33 states where consensual sex between police and people in their custody wasn't a crime, The Wichita Eagle reported . Law enforcement officers were banned from having sex with people in jail, but the new law bans sexual relations "during the course of a traffic stop, a custodial interrogation, an interview in connection with an investigation, or while the law enforcement officer has such person detained." Democratic Representative Cindy Holscher, of Olathe, introduced the bill. She said the legislation grew from the case of Lamonte McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn't commit. McIntyre was released last year after investigators determined the detective who arrested him had long coerced sexual acts from women in Kansas City's black community, including McIntyre's mother, by threatening to arrest them or their relatives. McIntyre's mother said in an affidavit that she believed the detective targeted her son after she spurned his advances. Holscher said she also was influenced by a New York case where a teenager alleged she was raped by two police officers in the back of their van. No charges were filed because the officers claimed the sex was consensual and therefore legal. The Kansas bill received bipartisan support. Representative John Carmichael, a Democrat from Wichita, said he was shocked to learn that such behavior wasn't already illegal in Kansas when Holscher first discussed the proposal. Many officers now wear body cameras, so it would be difficult for law enforcement to get away with sex on the job, said Rep. John Whitmer, a Republican from Wichita. "Most officers are great guys and women who are working hard, but there's always the one," Whitmer said.

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Kansas Governor Signs Bill on Body Cameras, Child Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law will make law enforcement body camera footage more accessible and require the state to release basic information about child abuse deaths.  Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill Thursday that contains both provisions and issued an executive order requiring more transparency from state agencies in providing information about open jobs.  Colyer described the new law as a good step toward making Kansas more open. It takes effect July 1.  Law enforcement agencies will be required to make body camera footage accessible to the families of suspects fatally shot by officers within 20 days of a request. It's a response to inconsistent access across the state.  The new law's other provision would require the state to disclose whether it had reports that a dead child was being abused.

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Kansas Legalizes Vending Machine Sales of Lottery Tickets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has legalized the sale of state lottery tickets through vending machines, and they're expected to start popping up in stores and gas stations next year. Republican Governor Jeff Colyer this week signed a bill sought by lottery officials to authorize vending-machine sales. Most states already allow such vending machines, and Kansas Lottery officials see them as a way to boost sales. Lottery Director Terry Presta said Friday that annual sales eventually could rise by up to $100 million. Lawmakers passed a bill legalizing lottery vending machines last year, but then-Governor Sam Brownback -- a conservative Republican -- vetoed it. He argued that expanding state-run gambling would hurt the poor the most. Brownback stepped down in January for an ambassador's post, and lawmakers quietly passed another bill with bipartisan support.

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Second Man Sentenced for Murder of Kansas Union Steward

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of a man during a botched robbery outside a Kansas City, Kansas, bar.The Kansas City Star reports Efrain Gonzalez was sentenced Friday for the November 2016 death of 29-year-old Louis Scherzer, a union steward at the Board of Public Utilities.Prosecutors allege that Gonzalez and co-defendant Filiberto Espinoza Jr. confronted Scherzer outside the bar and Scherzer was shot in the back when he turned to get away. Espinoza pleaded guilty and was sentenced in November to life in prison. Both men will have to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.

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KU Police Arrest Student in Alleged Fraternity Burglary

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a University of Kansas student on allegations he tried to burglarize sorority and fraternity houses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officers arrested a student early Thursday morning on suspicion of aggravated burglary and interference with law enforcement. Lawrence Police Officer Derrick Smith says authorities received a call about a suspicious person trying to enter residences in an area populated by university Greek houses. Officers found a man walking out of a fraternity house with two golf bags. Smith says the suspect attempted to run away and fell down a hill. He was then arrested and booked into jail. Jail records say the 21-year-old is a student at the university but lives off-campus. Smith says the student had minor injuries resulting from the fall. No officers were hurt.

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Immigration Agent Gets 6-Month Jail Term in Kansas Leak Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who sent sensitive law enforcement material to a Wichita television news anchor was sentenced Friday to six months in jail he has already served. Andrew J. Pleviak declined to make a statement before he was sentenced to time served and a year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in February to exceeding authorized access to a government computer. Defense attorney Stephen Ariagno told the court that Pleviak has some mental health issues, but "we feel we have turned the page." He added that his client has "been more peaceful" since his medication was changed. KAKE-TV anchor Deb Farris told police last year that Pleviak was sending her law enforcement material and texting messages that were sexual in nature, according to a probable cause affidavit released in January. Farris was interviewed by the Wichita Police Department during which officers photographed about 185 screen shots of text messages between her and Pleviak. Farris told The Associated Press in January that Pleviak first came to her asking to be her source, saying he had all kinds of information she would need for future stories. She has said the station never used anything that he gave her and that he started texting her things that made her uncomfortable and scared her. Homeland Security Investigations Agent Brian Beach wrote in his probable cause affidavit that Pleviak provided Farris in November 2016 with copies of computerized criminal history reports for suspects. Two days after Wichita police interviewed Farris, Pleviak's supervisor ordered him to immediately relinquish his government-issued iPhone, according to the affidavit. The affidavit also cited a September email in which Pleviak allegedly admitted remotely deleting information from the phone. Federal prosecutors initially indicted Pleviak in July on two counts of exceeding authorized access to a government computer for accessing information from the National Crime Information Center. But one of the counts and a count of destruction of records in a federal investigation were dismissed as part of the plea deal. Under sentencing guidelines, Pleviak had faced up to six months in prison. But he had already spent slightly more than six months in jail pending the outcome of his case because his bond was twice revoked for violating its conditions.

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K-State Plans More Than $15 Million in Budget Cuts

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University plans to reduce its budget by more than $15 million for the upcoming school year University officials on Thursday said the 5.27 percent cut will affect administrative offices, colleges and research and extension. Spokeswoman Jennifer Tidball says the reductions include $6.1 million for administrative units, such as the president and provost offices and Hale Library. The Manhattan Mercury reports about $6.3 million will affect all the university's colleges and $3 million will come from Kansas State Research and Extension. School officials cited declining enrollment as the main reason for the reductions. The university's enrollment has dropped in each of the last three years. Its September 2017 census counted 22,796 students, nearly 1,000 fewer than in 2016.

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7-Month-Old Wellington Girl's Death Ruled a Homicide

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Wellington police say they're investigating the death of a 7-month-old girl as a homicide.  Police Chief Tracy Heath said Jesslinn Kinslee Hulett died last month of blunt force trauma.  KAKE-TV reports the baby's father took her to a hospital on April 1after she quit breathing. She died April 5 at a Wichita hospital.  The baby was in the care of her mother who lives in Oxford. No one has been arrested.

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Mother, Boyfriend Charged with Murdering Toddler

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The mother of a 2-year-old Wichita boy who died from suspected abuse and the woman's boyfriend have been charged with murder in the first degree. It is the latest case in the Wichita area in which young children died after law enforcement and state welfare officials received reports they were being abused.  Elizabeth Woolheater and Lucas Diel made their first court appearances Wednesday via video feed from jail. They are charged in the death of Anthony Bunn. They have not yet been assigned public defenders.  The head of Kansas Department of Children and Families announced more changes Tuesday at the embattled agency. Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said in a news release that the agency will be "implementing corrective action plans" in child welfare programs and will be making personnel changes.

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FBI Offers $10,000 Reward in Apparent Kansas City Hate Crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The FBI is offering $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in an apparent hate crime at a Kansas City community college. The federal agency on Friday released a poster seeking the public's help in an investigation of the incident on April 3 at the Penn Valley campus of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City.  A female student, who is Muslim, told authorities she was going down stairs in the Humanities Building when she heard a man make a derogatory comment. She says when she turned around, the man hit her in the face, causing her to fall down the stairs. She received medical attention and reported the incident to campus police. The FBI is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.

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Man Charged in Missouri Guard Member's Stabbing Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 58-year-old convicted killer from northwestern Missouri is charged in the death of a Missouri Air National Guard member who was stabbed in what authorities are calling a road rage incident.  Jackson County, Missouri, authorities charged Nicholas Webb, of Pleasant Hill, with second-degree murder and armed criminal action on Thursday.  Authorities allege he stabbed 23-year-old Cody Harter, of St. Joseph, on Saturday after a confrontation along a highway in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit.  The Kansas City Star reports Webb was convicted of second-degree murder in Jackson County in 1981 and was in and out of prison with parole violations. He was last released from prison in July.  As a member of the Air National Guard, Harter did a tour in Iraq and served in Qatar, and helped with Hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico.   Harter's funeral is scheduled for Friday.

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2 Germans Killed While Cycling in Kansas Identified

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has identified two German citizens killed this week when they were hit by a vehicle while riding bicycles in southeast Kansas.  The patrol said Thursday a minivan driven by a 23-year-old Shawnee, Kansas, woman struck the cyclists from behind while they were traveling west on Route 66 near Galena, Kansas.  The two men who died were 74-year-old Harry Jung, of Steinfurth, Germany, and 71-year-old Heinz Gerd Buchel, of Bad Nauheim. The men died at the scene.  Trooper Rick Wingate said the investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing. Investigators also don't know yet why the two men were in the U.S.  The Joplin Globe reports the patrol has said the men were following cycling laws when they were hit.

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1 of 4 Suspects Pleads No Contest in Salina Homicide

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — One of four men accused of in the death of a Salina man pleaded no contest to felony murder and kidnapping in a deal that means he could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.  Thirty-one-year-old Charles Rodgers agreed to the plea deal in Tuesday in the June 2017 death of 29-year-old Brandon Lee Shelby. Prosecutors say Shelby was stabbed and beaten to death and his body was left about a mile northeast of Salina.  The Salina Journal reports prosecutors say Rodgers agreed to kill Shelby for 40-year-old James Pavey. He expected to be paid with drugs or money.  Pavey and two other men, all facing first-degree murder and other charges, are awaiting trial.

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Wichita Man Sentenced to Probation for Starving His Dog

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who claimed he found a starving dog has been sentenced to a year's probation after admitting the dog was his.  The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office says 28-year-old Vincent Currie Jr. was sentenced Tuesday for misdemeanor cruelty to animals and interference with law enforcement. He could spend a year in prison if he violates probation.  Currie called police in October 2017 to report finding a dog near his home that was so thin its bones were visible. The dog was treated for severe dehydration and an intestinal blockage that required surgery.  Eventually, police received a tip that the pit bull belonged to Currie, who had told friends he couldn't afford the dog.
A Wichita family is now caring for the dog.

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Report: U.S. Winter Wheat Forecast Down Amid Drought, Surplus

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows U.S. farmers are expected to harvest their smallest winter wheat crop in more than a decade amid an ongoing drought that has devastated fields across the nation's breadbasket and a global surplus of the grain that has depressed prices.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Thursday forecast the nation's 2018 wheat crop at 1.19 billion bushels. If realized, that would be down 6 percent from the previous year.  Marsha Boswell, spokeswoman for the industry group Kansas Wheat, says the last time the nation's farmers harvested such a small wheat crop was in 2002.  She says it's not a surprise that production is down because the market is not really telling people to plant wheat given the surplus of it in the world.

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Ford to Restart Truck Production in Kansas City and Dearborn

DETROIT (AP) — Ford expects to restart production of F-Series pickups May 18 at two factories that stopped making trucks due to a fire at a parts supplier plant. A spokeswoman says Friday that production should resume in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri. Super Duty pickup assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, will remain idle but workers will keep producing big SUVs. Earlier this week Ford temporarily laid off 7,600 workers after a May 2 fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Michigan. A spokeswoman says Ford is working with Meridian and others to get parts. Also Friday, Mercedes said it ran out of Meridian parts at its SUV plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As a result, production was canceled Thursday and Friday. No layoffs are expected. Employees will work next week on a limited schedule.

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Missouri Legislature Passes Bill to Ban "Revenge Porn"

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Legislature has approved a bill banning "revenge porn."  House lawmakers gave the measure final approval in a 138-0 vote Thursday. It passed the Senate 33-0 on Wednesday.  If enacted, the proposal would make distributing a sexual image of someone without their consent a felony.  The proposal was in the works long before Gov. Eric Greitens was charged with a felony for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman during a sexual encounter and threatening to release it if she revealed their relationship. Previous efforts to pass the legislation failed.

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Critics Being Weeded Out of Missouri Governor's Jury Pool

ST. LOUIS (AP) — People with negative impressions of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are being weeded out of his potential juror pool for a criminal trial.  Jury selection that began Thursday in St. Louis was to continue Friday and potentially into early next week. Those selected will hear a case accusing Greitens of felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a compromising photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015.  Greitens has not directly answered questions about whether he took the photo but has acknowledged an affair and denied criminal wrongdoing.  During jury selection, Greitens' attorneys have sought to dismiss potential jurors whose answers to a questionnaire indicated they may have a bias against the governor.

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Applebee's Sues After Restaurant in Profiling Case Closes

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Applebee's is suing a franchise owner in the Kansas City area after the closure of a restaurant where two black women said they were falsely accused of not paying for meals. The chain argues that the company has suffered "significant brand and reputational damage" from the "controversial and high-profile circumstances of the closure" of the restaurant at the Independence Center Mall and the closures of six other restaurants in Missouri and Kansas, The Kansas City Star reported. The Independence closure happened in February, after the two women posted a video showing an employee, a police officer and a mall security guard confronting them for "dining and dashing" during a previous visit, which the women denied. The video has been viewed millions of times. At the time of the Independence restaurant's closure, Applebee's said it didn't "tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment." It's unclear whether the closure was directly related to the February incident because the Independence Center Mall has struggled financially. It got a new owner in February while facing the prospect of a foreclosure sale because its previous owner was unable to pay off a $200 million loan. Applebee's said in a statement Friday that its lawsuit was "based on a long-standing breach of contract against an individual and is not dependent on a particular incident." The lawsuit, which seeks $11 million in damages, was filed this month against William Georgas of Greenwich, Connecticut, who is accused of failure to pay rent, advertising fees and royalties. He is identified as a principal shareholder of Apple Central KC LLC and Apple Central LLC, which operated the seven closed locations. The suit said Georgas personally guaranteed obligations of the franchisee businesses, which were not named as defendants in the lawsuit. Georgas's attorney didn't immediately return a phone message Friday from The Associated Press. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. It alleges that Applebee's didn't approve of the franchise holder's closure of the Independence restaurant or the closure of restaurants in Kansas City and Lee's Summit, Missouri, and in the Kansas cities of Lawrence and Olathe. The closings "left a trail of vacant buildings throughout the Kansas City area that the general public previously recognized as bustling and active Applebee's restaurants," the lawsuit said.

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Prosecutors: No Comment on Ex-NFL Player Lawsuit

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Prosecutors in New Jersey have declined to comment on a lawsuit filed by a former NFL linebacker who says he was wrongfully charged by authorities.  Khaseem Greene filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging police and prosecutors manufactured evidence to pursue a gun charge against him even after another man admitted lying about Greene's involvement in a shooting outside a nightclub in Elizabeth in December 2016.  The suit names the Union County Prosecutor's Office and the Elizabeth Police Department. The prosecutor's office declined to comment, and the police department did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.  The gun charge against Greene was dropped last July after an audio recording surfaced of the other man telling detectives he lied about getting the weapon from Greene.

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Texas Man Charged with Having Sex with Kansas 15-Year-Old

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 36-year-old man is charged with traveling from Texas to Kansas to have sex with a 15-year-old girl and later bringing the girl back to Texas with him. The U.S. attorney's office says Juan Carlos Carmona was charged Thursday with two federal counts. It wasn't immediately known whether he had an attorney. The complaint says the investigation began May 16 when the Hutchinson, Kansas, teen was reported missing. Investigators say they found that in April 2018 Carmona drove from Texas to Hutchinson, where he rented a hotel room and had sex with the girl. The complaint says that after returning to Texas, Carmona came back to Kansas in May. He is accused of picking up the girl and driving her to Houston, where the two had sex.

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Kansas City, Kansas Police Say Man Found Slain in SUV

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a homicide in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say in a news release that the officers were responding to a shots fired call late Thursday when they found a sports utility vehicle in a wooded area. The release says the victim was found inside dead from an apparent gunshot wound. No other details were immediately released, including the man's name. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.

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Kenseth Ready for Season Debut at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Matt Kenseth says he will be in the No. 6 car for Roush Fenway Racing for the next five weeks, beginning with his season debut on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway. That stretch continues with next weekend's All-Star race, Charlotte, Pocono and Michigan. Kenseth is also expected behind the wheel for the remaining races with Wyndham Rewards as the sponsor: Indianapolis, Dover, Phoenix and the season-ending race at Homestead. Roush Fenway announced last month that Kenseth would split time in the No. 6 with Trevor Bayne the rest of the season. Bayne is expected to drive the remaining eight races with AdvoCare as the sponsor. Kenseth won back-to-back races at Kansas in 2012 and '13.

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